The end of February in Alabama is a signal to sharpen your pruners and get to pruning your roses. I spent most of the weekend pruning and still have a few more to go! I made this companion video to give some illustration to what I have outlined below I hope you will find it to be of some benefit.
I follow 3 D’s when pruning roses in spring:
- Remove DEAD canes
- Remove DISEASED canes
- Remove DAMAGED canes
I also look for and remove crossing canes that rub against one another and will ultimately damage one another. The photo below shows the result of this type of damage.
Since modern repeat blooming roses bloom on new wood, I tend to prune them low, down to about 18-24 inches from the ground. Our roses are already putting out new growth, so it was very easy to tell where to cut. If possible, you want to cut where the new growth is facing away from the center of the shrub. This new outward growth promotes good air circulation in the center of the shrub. This is an important factor in keeping down disease.
I do not prune my climbing roses at this time. I continue to allow them put out new growth. I don’t prune them until after the first cycle of bloom. Then I trim and shape as needed. This also applies to any once blooming roses I have in my garden.
We weed and remove any debris that may have fallen or blown into our rose beds during the winter. Diseased leaves will overwinter in your garden and if you fail to remove them, it will cause you disease problems in the spring. We apply a fresh layer of mulch during this time. This new layer of protection will keep weeds down and help with moisture retention. We use mini pine bark nuggets. It beaks down quickly in the garden and adds to the mix of the soil.
I had the help of three great tools in the garden made pruning 150+ rose shrubs a lot easier
- A sharp pair of bypass pruners – Do Not use anvil type pruners. They can damage your roses.
- A pair of gauntlet gloves – allows you to get in “up to your elbows” as needed. Wendy Tilley at TheRoseGardener.com has these at a great price.
- A good set of loppers – Needed for removing the 3 D’s from your garden. Mine are actually a two handed pruner from Corona Tools USA
By following these simple steps, help get my roses off to a good start for the bloom season that is surely ahead.